Whether you usually read off of your own book pile or from the library shelves NOW, chances are you started off with trips to the library. (There’s no way my parents could otherwise have kept up with my book habit when I was 10.) So … What is your earliest memory of a library? Who took you? Do you have you any funny/odd memories of the library?
It is too long ago. I cannot fix on the year, or the spot. But it was when I started to demand buying too many books than my mother would allow that she told me I can check them out at the library. I must be in second grade, or third the latest. That the main library was right across the street from my school on Pui Ching Road in Hong Kong made it very convenient. My affair with the library started way before I became a devoted reader. I appreciated the refuge that a library provides as a study hall. I remembered learning the Dewey (decimal) catalog system that most public libraries adopt. Instead of being the frequent patron of the Children Library, I was pacing through the canyon of tall shelves at the Reference Library, where I conducted research for a school science project (oh yes, this is elementary school). By the time I was in Secondary 1 (7th grade), library became my hang-out spot after school, where I studied and read. It wasn’t until I was a college-bound student that I began to read literature seriously–reading one book after another, owing to a very enthusiastic literature teacher whose reading habit is contagious. I made the Stacks (the main library on campus) my second home by the time I started college at Berkeley. It was a concrete, gigantic vault of a complex that goes four levels underground with miles of stacks full of titles in humanities, literature, and foreign languages. I, of course, would most likely be found at a study cubicle near the P section on the B3 level! Undergraduate was the time when I read the most literature even though I was a chemistry major. Dostoevsky. Tolstoy. Camus. James. Joyce. Dickens. Flaubert. Saramago. Wharton. Whitman. Hardy. Hemingway. The list goes on and on.